Remo Salvadori

MAGASIN - Centre National d'Art Contemporain

On the occasion of his first museum retrospective, Remo Salvadori modified the gallery to facilitate the presentation and interpretation of his works. He changed the continuous curved walls into angular and rigid ones. The first large gallery ended with a narrow, funnel-shaped passage that opened onto a second triangular space, and finally merged into another large hall. The form of the triangle dominated the space, and the arrangement of the works, which “spangled” the walls and the floor in greater or lesser density; seemed to spiral into the installation Qui non si misura il tempo (Here one doesn’t measure time, 1981-85) and the painting L’uomo che ode (The man who hears, 1978-87). The variety of the forms and their repetition were striking, as was the unusual placement of familiar works such as the copper Tazze (Cups, 1991), which he placed within a square room built specifically for them, and entitled La Stanza delle Tazze (The cups’ room, 1991). The works seemed to inhabit, and, with their symbolic value and emotional charge, to sensitize a strangely hostile, rigid space made up of fractures and narrow passages.

Aided by a few signs, one could recognize that the space, at least from above, resembled a roughly drawn geometrical profile (eye, mouth, nose, ear), which extended into an arm and a hand. Salvadori’s work might be thought of as a kind of anthropometry, that is, a measurement of the human figure, for he reflects upon both the human constitution and upon that which transcends it. He is concerned with the notion of subjectivity, but this does not entail an idealism that centers the subject and imbues it with expressiveness. Subjectivity only enters Salvadori’s practice as hypothesis and inquiry; it avoids the authority of established identity. Identity is necessarily a product of the relationship between the self and the other, and can only be based on thought engendered by the encounter with objects. And these objects—a cup, a glass, a table, a bottle—thus become figures on a cognitive path based on transformation and introspection. Without losing their specificity as objects and thus their functionality, the amphora, the glass, and the cup gain a universal significance as containers, and, on a cosmic level as crucible, belly, and ultimately the world itself. The pieces entitled Triade (Triad, 1985-89)—three groupings of three bottles each, shown simultaneously here—attest to Salvadori’s desire to overcome the dualism of rationalist thought. The scattering of the lead pieces in Nel momento (At the time, 1991) communicates an idea of energy by which thought transforms matter into substance. The repetitions in the pieces signify the multivalent meanings of the objects and their materials, into which Salvadori delves. In L’Osservatore, non l’oggetto osservato (The observer, not the object observed, 1981-85), a cast-bronze photographer’s tripod, reproduced in three versions, provides the viewer with the experience of being an observer who is observed observing. And that is the experience of knowing.

Giorgio Verzotti

Translated from the Italian by Marguerite Shore.